Twenty-nine years ago today, President Lyndon Johnson announced a program of hope for our Nation's most vulnerable children and their families, a program designed to give children a true "Head Start."
I am particularly pleased that many of those who helped launch Head Start could join us today to witness the fruits of their vision and see the faces of those who entered Head Start programs in that first summer of 1965. They represent more than 13 million children and families whose lives have been touched by this great program.
It is with tremendous pride that I help turn the next page in the distinguished history of Head Start by signing S. 2000, legislation that sets forth a bold new agenda for the future of the Head Start program. Over the years, Head Start has been successful in improving the lives of low-income children and their families by providing health and social services and education. These comprehensive services have changed numerous lives and contributed to a stronger future for our Nation.
I am particularly pleased that this legislation, which authorizes a wide array of human services programs, is the product of extraordinary bipartisan cooperation. This effort began last June when Secretary Shalala announced the establishment of the Advisory Committee on Head Start Quality and Expansion. Its groundbreaking report set forth a blueprint for creating a 21st century Head Start and laid the foundation for the landmark legislation that we celebrate today.
This legislation seeks to re-energize the Head Start program for generations to come. Through this legislation, strong new efforts will be made to improve the quality of Head Start programs, and an important new initiative will be launched to provide Head Start services to families with children under age three. Services will be tailored to meet the needs of today's families, and creative partnerships will be forged with other key programs at the State and local level.
Head Start reminds us that our country cannot afford to waste its young or ignore their families. We must value every child and help every parent succeed. Head Start creates the sense of community that all of us need in our lives. The dedication of thousands of volunteers, staff, and parents helps create the special relationship that defines the Head Start program. Head Start is indeed a celebration of human diversity and creativity.
WILLIAM J. CLINTON
The White House, May 18, 1994.